Wednesday, January 11, 2023

No Tomorrow (USA, 1999)

Without doubt, No Tomorrow would have been an indefinitely better movie had a monster suddenly popped out of the woodwork and bitten off a few heads. Not that a monster would have in any logical manner fit into the narrative, but damn, in a movie as bland as this one a little scurrility would have definitely enlivened the procedures and possibly even made the movie somewhat memorable. Instead, No Tomorrow plods forwards in its mostly by-the-number and predictable manner, noteworthy only in how it manages, despite the regularly interspersed "big" action scenes, to remain amazingly uninvolving and unexciting and so forgettable that roughly ten minutes after it ends the viewer is hard pressed to remember anything that happened.
Trailer to
No Tomorrow:
Directed by the admirably successful "American rapper, record executive, actor, and entrepreneur" Master P, the man also occasionally chews up the scenery as a tertiary if plot-driving character named Maker, a Washington DC-based weapons-dealing gangsta who, pissed off from being cut out of a big weapons deal that he helped set up, goes after the international arms dealer Noah (a lost-looking but exuberant Gary Busy of Insignificance [1985 / trailer], Surviving the Game [1994 / trailer],  A Crack in the Floor [2000], Soft Target [2006] and Piranha 3DD [2012]). Noah, in turn, is in the crosshairs of top FBI agent Diane (the Great Pam Grier of Coffy [1973], Black Mama White Mama [1973], Bones [2001], and so much more), who has managed to plant an unnamed undercover agent in his operation. Could that agent be the oddly and tediously uncharismatic, soft-spoken, six-packed slice of white bread named Jason (Gary Daniels, below, not from the film)? If so, he sure has no compunctions about killing fellow agents to maintain his cover.
The opening scene in DC is one of pyrotechnic explosions and bullets everywhere, and gives the viewer the hope that No Tomorrow might be a late-20th century, fun and trashy Blaxploitation — but: nope. Once Maker learns that the double-crossing Noah is in L.A., the focus of the film shifts to the flavorless accountant Jason, who is talked by a coworker (a wonderfully smarmy and camp Jeff Fahey, of Planet Terror [2007], Corpses [2004] and so much more) into cooking some books for Noah. As guns shoot and explosions roar and hits go wrong and rap musicians record music,* Jason,  even as he keeps insisting that he wants out, works his way up the crime corporate ladder as he earns Noah's trust.
* Among the artists, Master P's brother C-Murder, who in 2002 was sent to jail on what could still be proven to be trumped-up charges for murdering 16-year-old Steve Thomas. Were he white, he would possibly already be a free man.
Okay, films like this do earn deserved praise in that they tend to give underappreciated and underemployed national treasures like Pam Grier money to pay the rent. Her part was probably shot in two or three days at most (she appears in multiple scenes and outfits, but in only two locations), but regardless of how inane her dialogue might be Grier gives it her best and achieves minor verisimilitude regardless of how generic the things she says might sound. Master P also does her history right by giving her a short scene in which she believably kicks a bad guy's butt. (Go, Pam! Go!)
In regards to verisimilitude, however, the same cannot be said of the attractive Jodi Bianca Wise (of For the Cause [2000 / trailer]), who is majorly attractive, much like Daniels, but is also majorly unable to emote convincingly, much like Daniels. As the two become an item over the course of the movie, they are given the mandatory love scenes (including the obligatory shower sex scene), but none of the semi-nude scenes are as exploitive as they would have to be add any sleaze and spice to this rather rote and illogical movie, the only saving grace of which is that it does manage to have an unexpected (if impossible) twist* at the big showdown in the desert.
* Major spoiler, don't read this if you want to see the film: The twist is that Jason (Daniels) is not the FBI informant, but a freelancer (with ulterior motives of his own) hired by Maker (Master P) to infiltrate Noah's organization. But somewhere along the way in No Tomorrow, it is dropped that Jason has been working at the bank for 1.5 years, long before Maker even knew that Noah was in Los Angeles.
All in all, No Tomorrow is less terrible than simply too generic. It is not lacking action scenes, guns or explosions — including a truck that explodes despite being only grazed by the ammunition of a rocket launcher — and even has a helicopter chasing a car scene. In the end, however, it offers nothing that hasn't been seen before somewhere else, better shot and with greater tension. In that sense, if you ignore the lack of suspense and oddly lackluster execution and pacing, the by-the-numbers movie includes everything it should for its genre and thus achieves a pay-TV level (circa 1999) of competence. Unluckily, nothing really gels — and, possibly even worse, nothing actually goes so rancid to truly make No Tomorrow absolutely terrible in the so bad its good way. Had No Tomorrow been slightly more exploitive and a tad more ridiculous or cheesy, it might have at least been entertaining as a bad movie (see: Soft Target [2006]); instead, it really isn't special or interesting in any way and thus remains pretty much forgettable and inconsequential. Definitely a movie meant ONLY for hardcore fans of the genre. Had it only included a head-biting monster, it could have been so much more...

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